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Continuing where we left off in our introduction to the game and scenario, today will be all about expanding our business operations south to the castle-town of Nagashirojo. Along the way will we discuss tourism, government subsidies, the associated costs of laying down new track, the associated costs of building a new station, the cost-benefit proposition of different station types, and finally the costs associated with remodelling existing stations.
Our personal assistant, Miss Matsushima, introduces us to the region’s sole tourist attraction, the reconstructed castle of Nagashirojo. This will serve as the nucleus for our business plans and will become a bustling hub of tourism in time as we expand our railway network. Though, Nagashirojo Castle isn’t the only thing of interest in this area, with the associated town liable to develop from all that planned tourist activity. Which translates to more local residents, equaling more potential local passengers, and one gigantic opportunity to make boost our revenue via real estate speculation and subsidiary businesses.
Before we get too far ahead of ourselves though, let me introduce everyone to the Tourist Information screen. Here you can find a list of the region’s tourist attractions, the appeal rating (attractiveness) of each tourist attraction, how many tourists have visited each location so far this year, and the number of tourist visits achieved during the last fiscal year. Then we get a handy little graph showcasing the five-year trend for tourist visits and finish off with a region-wide summary of the number of tourists so for this fiscal year and what we achieved during the previous fiscal year.
We can gain some additional information by accessing the Tourist Route screen (pictured above). Here we will find a list of neighbouring regions, which map edge we need to construct transportation connections with to begin bringing tourists into our region, a rating of the neighbouring region’s city scale, and a visual summary of whether we have established any tourist routes between the neighbouring region and one or more of our tourist attractions. Fortunately for our business, Hasuoka is a rated as being a thriving Metropolis, highest rating in the game, and therefore will provide a large quantity of tourists. Finally, you can see that currently tourists from Hasuoka can only access as far as Enomori Station and cannot make successful trip to Nagashirojo.
Now dear reader, you might be thinking “Great, now let’s expand our railway services to Nagashirojo!”. However, before we boldly press forwards with our business plan it would serve us well to consult with the local government and assess what subsidies they are currently offering. As you can see the region is further subdivided into several districts, each having their own policies and subsidies. As we are relatively new to the region our relationship (company trust) with the local administration is currently low. Therefore, we may only take on one task (subsidy) at a time, however, as our trust rating increases so does our ability to accept multiple concurrent tasks.
In the near future, procuring the government subsidy for the construction of commercial type buildings in Nagashirojo Village might prove advantageous. The current advertised subsidy would give us back 95% of any land acquisition costs accrued during the construction of three or more commercial buildings within the Nagashirojo Village district. To successfully receive the subsidy we must construct at least three commercial buildings in the Nagashirohjo district by July 31st, 1993. Upon the successful completion of the task the local government will pay us the subsidy, 95% of what we spent on land acquisition costs, within a period of three months and gained increased trust in our company.
With no government subsidies currently on offer for the construction of railway track within either the Nagashirojo or Enomori districts, let us begin expanding our railway network. Currently, as you may remember, South Enomori Station is the end of our railway network. However, when we took over control of the region’s railway infrastructure we also gained an unconnected station in Tomoto. It would be prudent for us to connect our existing railway network to Tomoto Station via South Enomori Station. Which brings us onto the associated costs of laying track.
In A-Train: All Aboard! Tourism our company does not just pay for the material and labour costs of constructing the railway track. Oh no, first we need to purchase the land (right of way) we’re building upon if we don’t already own it. Which means the cost of acquiring right of way for our railway tracks varies depending on the land’s current value. In addition to this, the purchase of the land will incur taxes, dues, and handling fees. Fortunately, as you can see in the picture above, we currently already own a two-tile wide strip of land between South Enomori Station and Tomoto Station.
Currently, we do not own a connecting strip of land between Tomoto Station and the prospective site of Nagashirojo Station, as visualised above by the lack of a red hue on the tiles of land. Therefore, we will incur land acquisition costs during the construction of railway track between Tomoto Station and the soon to be built Nagashirojo Station. If for some reason we expect the value of the land to rise significantly before we build our track we could pre-emptively acquire the land through the Trade Land screen. However, this is unlikely to happen and therefore we can let the game acquire the land for us during the process of laying our new railway tracks.
The associated costs of laying track on land we already own between South Enomori and Tomoto, as pictured above. In contrast to the associated costs of laying track between Tomoto and Nagashirojo, where we don’t yet own the land being utilised, as pictured below.
Next we will begin construction of Nagashirojo Station, so that passengers will have somewhere to board or alight our planned train services. When constructing a station we receive a choice between several different station types and various different station buildings, each with their own advantages and disadvantages. Therefore, we will conduct a thorough cost-benefit analysis of our options to arrive at a decision. Ground level stations are one of the cheapest and easiest station types to construct and remodel, should we ever want to modify the station at a later date. Within this category exists station houses of various sizes and costs, with our list of options changing across time as new modern station houses appear and older station houses fade into history.
As pictured above, you can see that stations come with associated costs as well. Not only do we pay for the station house and associated structures (e.g., platforms) but they also incur ongoing operation expenses (e.g., maintenance). The better and larger stations often cost more to build and maintain of course. You may also have noticed that construction of stations requires both construction materials and the passage of a specific number of days. Consequently, rather than being built instantaneous stations will take some time before they become operational. In A-Train: All Aboard! Tourism construction materials can either be supplied by ourselves – something we will broach another day – or will eventually be obtained off the private market, akin to the building crew going out and sourcing the materials themselves.
Once we have chosen which station type and station house option we want it is time to confirm the location of our new station. During this process the game gives us a visual indication of the station’s catchment radius, whether passengers are within range of other stations or stops to transfer services, and critically whether the station is within walking distance of a touristic attraction for tourists. Here we will also decide upon the number of platforms to be built and the length of these platforms.
Platform length is an important consideration in the game when designing your station. Whilst trains that are smaller than the chosen platform length will operate without issue, trains that exceed the platform length of a station will be unable to load and unload all of their carriages. Therefore, we either want to plan ahead and build our station platforms to match our expected maximum train length. Or we can initially build a smaller station but acquire the land around it to ensure we have sufficient space for any future expansion.
After beginning construction of Nagashirojo Station we decide to double track the railway line all the way up to our connection with Hasouka. Therefore, we will need to remodel some of our existing stations to add a second platform to them. This is very similar to constructing a station, where the game will first ask us to chose the station type and station house we wish to use. Afterwards, we then get to adjust the number of platforms the station has and the platform length, which maxes out at eight tiles.
Since we used the Stations screen to access the remodel option, let’s revisit it to examine South Enomori Station in further detail. As you may notice in the picture above, stations not only allow passengers to board and alight but can also generate sales. True to real life, you can think of this being the station either leasing out facilities to other businesses like cafes or via vending machines, selling advertising space, and et cetera. Remember how I previously said that better and larger stations often cost more to build and maintain? Well the potential for a station to generate revenue from passengers is influenced by the type of station house chosen; with the larger, better station houses having a greater potential due to increased commercial spaces to rent out and so on.
Time to take a second to admire our work using the 3D view! We have extended our railway line down to Nagashirojo Castle, expanded the line capacity of our route from Hasouka to Nagashirojo by double tracking it, begun the construction of a sparkling new station at Nagashirojo, and remodelled both the South Enomori and Tomoto stations to add a second platform. That wraps up part two of Let’s Play All Aboard Tourism, do join me when we expand our rolling stock and tackle the tricky topic of train scheduling. Until the next time we met, have a safe journey aboard the A-Train!